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Why the combination of group and individual counseling often gets the best results

People with a private relationship or sexual issue are often terrified about the thought of going to a therapist. Even me, who makes my living making sure clients are safe, comfortable and supported. And I have cookies and tea. But add in group therapy and the terror can be palatable. As I remind clients (and my kids) “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”.

Group work is often a very effective way of solving a specific therapy issue. I like to say “that the group becomes greater than the sum of it’s parts”. Workshops (even if you use a fake name and sit at the back of the room) allow you to hear or participate in a group discussion. And if it’s on a topic you are struggling with, hear that others are struggling as well. Listen to how other people are coping, or have improved things in their lives. For couples, groups can be magic for couples looking for guidance. I find the most effective treatments are the combination of individual and group counseling. Think of private groups like a class “where everyone has read the book”. Great discussion ensue. Your feelings are validated, and often you hear suggestions from others that can have an impact. Either way you aren’t alone.

I run something I call “School of Sex” monthly in a room that has pictures of the Queen on the wall. It’s for people who want to improve their sexual IQ and be better in bed. Often you weren’t pulled aside in High School and explained the nuances of being a good lover. And if you aren’t a reader how do you learn? Porn is unrealistic and actually harmful. Because real people in a sexual situation don’t stay hard effortlessly for over an hour, or climax when you touch their elbow in throes of ecstasy. Having seen a porn shoot, I remind my clients it’s acting not real life.

We use humour, great speakers, and really facilitate open dialogue. Someone will ask the question in your head. And if not, at the end of the workshop you can come up quietly and ask a question about “a friend”. We’ve done classes called “Oral Sex and Cheesecake”, Hand-jobs, G-Spots and Sangria, Boy bits (with a giant penis costume), Swinging Sundae (on the Lifestyle and swapping partners) and many more. They are a safe place for people to learn, explore, feel safe and get to hear what works for other random people from their community. For the oral sex talk recently we had lesbians, much older women, disabled women among others talk about the kind of oral sex they liked. The men were at the edge of their seats. It was particularly helpful for individuals who come from cultures where sex is taboo.

Understand that most people want to be better in bed. Yes counseling can help. But in combination with group work the change is more rapid and effective. School’s in session.

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